Remember: how Customer Success Managers develop and retain business with non-cooperative and boring clients will determine their credibility.Here are 5 hot solutions to dealing with your “challenging” clients:
- Passive/Aggressive. The P/A customer appears to roll over saying, “I really don’t know how to go about this.” When you deliver, the same person will complain, “You just weren’t listening!”
Remember: Chances are they know precisely what they want, but are simply trying to gauge your knowledge or willingness to assist.Thinking they are holding their cards to the vest, the P/A acts like the prerequisites and job specs are a secret. But, they tear the results apart as lacking big and small elements they never discussed. TIP: P/A customers treat everyone the same, so don’t take this behavior personally, but write or discuss a limit on revisions / requests into any contract or initial onboarding discussion. Psychology Today suggests, “Let yourself, not the passive-aggressive, be the one who sets the tone of the relationship.” Customers like these test your patience, so let it improve yours. With enough exposure, you can prepare for most turns. Always arrive with fallback options that let you pull “tricks” from your portfolio, with options that anticipate the limited range of directions the client might take. Offer them as options, and the client can take credit.
- Cheap/Manipulative. The C/M customer wants to nickel and dime you. Squeezing some cut out of you or your company gives them a rush. They’ll hit you with “You know, overall this is pretty good. But, you can’t tell me there aren’t some ways we can get the same thing for less money.”
Remember: this is a scripted response on their part. What it means is that they want to take credit for any savings.As Danny Jeffers writes for LearnDesign.org, “Know your worth!” You know what and where you can cut prices. Knowing your stuff and the competition’s behavior, you know what wiggle room there is. Still, it is important to stand your ground if you want this relationship to grow and strengthen. You can concede some savings if you build them into the offer. TIP: If you are the Customer Success Manager, you must manage the situation. Be prepared – discuss optional incentives / discounts with the relevant parties at your company, or be ready to back up you value with raw data. If you’re confident in your business’s unique selling proposition, move it forward.
- Control/Pick. The C/P feels compelled to tell you what to do. They demand a constant feed of information and updates, and monopolize your phone and email. They’ll tell you, “You must admit I know what we need, so let’s make a deal. I’ll give you everything you need if I can reach you 24/7.”
Remember: micro-management is not your friend. It is insatiable and never satisfied.Micromanaging is tiring. Repeated inputs complicate your process and increase risk of failure to please. Clear boundaries must be part of the process from the beginning and onboarding procedures. TIP: Smart CSMs clarify where and when they welcome customer input, but you make the decision on best times and methods for contact. Help them see what benefits and costs will be lost to repeated give and take.
- Superior/Outspoken. The S/O will be arrogant and condescending. They find solutions in aggression and sarcasm. Their needs, costs, and deadlines take priority, and they expect you to comply with their demands. They’ll propose, “Let’s try it my way. You might learn something.”
Remember: muting your own anger or insult helps disarm their pattern. But, you can do better with improved lead qualification.Customer Success professionals will recommend listening carefully and actively to determine if there is something else behind their motive. Your advantage lies in knowing what you know and how common their behavior may be. Advantage is yours when you know your strengths and those of your product, service, and price. TIP: Patience and proof are your professional allies. If you let the S/O talk, you can subdue their objections with a demonstration of how you anticipate their needs and are prepared to meet their demands. What you alone know is that you were always prepared to do regardless of their behavior. SmallBusinessbc.ca reminds, “You can’t be everything to everyone. If you don’t think you can fulfil the request, help them find an alternate remedy.”
- Tedious/Distracted. Not all difficult clients are obstructionists. Some are just downright boring to deal with. T/Ds enjoy interviews as a chance to talk, whine, or kill time. They feel empowered to call you asking, “Do you have some time to talk?” before they launch into some gossip about how hard it is to get others to agree on the details.
Remember: your time is as valuable as theirs. Being a business partner does not permit customers to determine the process – unless you let them.If you recognize the behavior, you can politely put a time frame on it. Let them know you have exactly five minutes before a scheduled meeting or that you are in your car on your way to a call. Give them options to resume the call at better times for you. TIP: Redirect talk of personal issues and office gossip. Such conversation is a slippery slope for Customer Success Managers, who want to continue business relationships beyond the stay of the individual T/D. Putting the “Professional” in Customer Success Management – Difficult and boring customer behaviors come with the territory. Brandon Sinclair recommends, “Get over it! Any complaint from a client is a 100% bona fide, major issue for them. Their perception is your reality. They have a problem; you have to fix it.” Customer Success Managers stand out for their ability to work effectively with non-cooperative and boring clients. With skill, talent, and some luck, they can position such clients with personal planning, professional-grade patience, and agile resilience. And, they possess the self-confidence and self-possession to cut their losses and move on. What are YOUR beliefs about dealing with non-cooperative or boring clients? Feel free to share ideas that worked for you in this matter. Interested in contributing to this blog? Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org